Is the NFL Getting NASCARized?

Would putting corporate logos on NFL practice jerseys be a slippery slope?

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Mar 27, 2009  |  Updated 8:45 AM PDT
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At this week's NFL Owners Meetings, one of the ideas discussed was practice jerseys. That seems like an awfully picayune topic for discussion until you note that the owners were talking about adding sponsor's logos to the jerseys. Dallas Cowboys executive Stephen Jones, son of owner Jerry, said that the league is exploring ways of adding logos to jerseys worn during practices during the offseason, training camp and regular season.

The idea would be that whenever players were photographed or captured on video, the sponsors would get some air time. Jones said that the logos would be unobtrusive and similar to those seen on professional soccer jerseys. Unobtrusive seems an odd word for the jersey worn by Manchester United, especially when the sponsor generates as much hatred as AIG.

It would be easy to criticize this move as a crass money grab by the already wealthy captains of industry that run the NFL, because it is. It would also be easy to bemoan the fact that this is a big step toward a day when the Cowboys star or Yankee pinstripes will share space with a Budweiser logo, because it probably is just such a step.

How much energy is left in the tank to summon outrage about the commercialization of sports, though? We already go to games played in stadiums named after various corporations and it's impossible to look at any field without seeing a dozen signs for other corporations. The PA system has announcement after announcement sponsored by this company or that company and the jumbotron features Kiss Cams and message boards brought to you by still more companies. 

And that's just at the game. Watching on TV means that every caught stealing is brought to you by Lojack and every trip an offense makes into the red zone is sponsored by Old Spice. Every inch of sports, in other words, is already blanketed by corporate logos, slogans and promotions, even if there's nothing but a name and number on the jerseys. 

None of this is to say that corporate logos splashed across jerseys is a good thing, but just to say that expending time and energy fighting against it is fighting a battle that's already been lost. A much better use of time would be putting thought into whether you'll keep patronizing teams and companies that turn sporting events into extended commercials.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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